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A town in Moldova (aka Bessarabia). It is just across the Dnestr River from Tiraspol, and is the eastern terminus of Trajan's Upper Wall.

Many of you may know of the town by its Swedish name, Bender.

"Why do the Swedes have their own name for a town in Moldova?", you might ask.

In the early 18th Century, Bessarabia was part of the Ottoman Empire. It was here that Swedish king Charles XII fled with 1,000 men after his army was crushed by the Russians at the 1709 Battle of Poltava.

It then occurred to Charles that Sweden might have an easier time of it if Russia had another war to fight -- namely Turkey. This part of the plan succeeded. Sultan Ahmed III surrounded Tsar Peter the Great's army at the 1711 Battle of the Pruth, and extracted part of Ukraine from Russia, including all of its access to the Black Sea.

However, Charles remained in Bender. I suppose he was afraid of the reception he would receive in war-humiliated and plague ravaged Sweden.

In 1713, Ahmed finally lost patience and sent a whole army to Bender to evict Charles. After a firefight lasting several hours, with Charles barricaded into his house (He was not playing chess), he finally surrendered. Ahmed took mercy on Charles and threw him into prison.

I can find no evidence that Charles' stay in Moldova is the origin of the English phrase "going on a bender" to mean a spree of debauchery, but it's certainly fun to think that.

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